An Introductory Handbook on Basic Probability, Statistics, and Excel

[This text has been prepared by Ian Johnston of Malaspina University-College, Nanaimo, British Columbia, for the use of students in Liberal Studies courses. The text is in the public domain and may be used by anyone, in whole or in part, without permission and without charge, released May 2000]

For comments, questions, suggestions, corrections and what not, please contact Ian Johnston

Table of Contents

Introductory Note and Copyright Information 

Section One: Basic Concepts of Probability

Section Two: Introduction to Excel

Section Three: Descriptive Statistics

Section Four: Correlation

Section Five: Normal Distribution

Section Six: Samples and Populations

Section Seven: Comparing Samples, Tests of Significance

Bibliography (under construction)

Introductory Note

The material here was originally prepared as a five-week module for students in Liberal Studies 402 at Malaspina University-College. The purpose of that module was to introduce students to some basic ideas in probability and statistics and to encourage them to learn something about working with Excel 7. 

This revised text is designed as a hands-on workshop, which students can carry out on their own (although some class-room assistance is strongly recommended). Thus, students will learn something of the fundamentals of spread-sheet procedures and mathematical concepts as they move through the following pages. However, it is not the purpose of this handbook to explore the complex conceptual issues basic to a full understanding of these mathematical ideas.

Throughout this workbook there are a number of self-test questions and sample exercises. Students should work their way through these to make sure they understand the procedures in Excel and the application of some basic probabilistic and statistical concepts. There is a section at the end each part of this handbook explaining the answers to the self-test sections.

The material here has been organized for students who have no particular skill or familiarity with mathematics. The emphasis is on understanding only the very basic concepts involved in statistical thinking and the procedures which will enable one to derive the appropriate information through Excel functions.

Since this text was first prepared, there have been some changes in the Excel program. However, many people are still working with the older versions. Thus, the basic instruction here are for Excel 7, but I have included, where necessary, some special comments and instructions about Excel 2000, when the difference between this version and the earlier one might create difficulty.

The contents of this work book are an amalgam of material from a number of different sources which have been freely plundered for explanations, examples, and problems. Some of the material in the first section comes from outlines and exercises prepared by Liberal Studies faculty (e.g., John Black and Rod Church), and almost all the rest comes from one or more of the books listed in the bibliography.

Copyright Information

This handbook is in the public domain and may be used, in whole or in part, by anyone without charge and without permission, provided the source is acknowledged, released May 2000.


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